Admittedly it’s early to be ‘reviewing’ MasterChef 4.0 -after all we’ve only seen one episode with contestants champing (or is that chomping?) at the bit to become one of the top 50.
The show doesn’t really get underway until we arrive at the Top 24.
But in the hands of Shine Australia, the early signs are good. MasterChef has found reason to smile once again, celebrating individuals with culinary ambitions.
The people were lively, the food looked yummy and the mood was positively buoyant.
Opening the series in Melbourne at the Exhibition Centre, Gary, George and Matt (we don’t even need their surnames anymore) strode out before a room of aspirants and their loved ones, telling stories about why they wanted to become the next MasterChef.
One girl was barely out of school, another woman had to live up to the expectations of her father. There were even kids there supporting their parents. The three judges laughed with the room, like friendly teachers welcoming a new class on day one. Awww, are these the same three that sent people into Lockdown last year? You’d hardly know it.
Contestants had an hour to cook and five minutes to plate up.
Most of the dishes we saw looked delicious. One woman seemed to be bursting with dinky-di energy, there was another whose Muslim faith will forbid her to eat pork, a tearfully joyous Asian man and a social worker who plays roller derby. You can’t write this stuff.
MasterChef has always led the way with its diverse casting and shows no sign of slowing down.
Families waited outside like for the good news, American Idol style. It served the dual purpose of backstories and adding real heart.
Not everybody made it. One 18 year old with boyish charms was told to become an apprentice. Others failed as part of a collective montage.
TEN made use of the premiere with promos for Bikie Wars and Being Lara Bingle (it looks boring), and oddly included a “back soon MasterChef” promo in an ad break -wouldn’t we have just gotten back to the show quicker without it?
There’s a lot riding on this series to prop up TEN’s ailing schedule, and given last year’s problems it may turn out to be a repeat of its very first season, when the show started modestly before gathering through word of mouth.
If I had any criticism of the first episode it’s that I still feel the “auditions” are superfluous. Why don’t we just open with the Top 50? After all they have to audition all over again for the 24.
But if these ovens are just warming up, MasterChef is a course I am happy to sit down and taste.
MasterChef airs 7pm weeknights on TEN.